Thursday, June 28, 2007


This small store is called Physical Graffiti, a vintage clothing boutique located at 96 St. Mark's Place. This brownstone building was photographed for a cover of Led Zeppelin's 1975 album, "Physical Graffiti," and was also used for a Rolling Stones' 1981 music video, "Waiting on a Friend." St. Mark's Place is a street in the East Village of Manhattan. Named after St. Mark's Church, which was built on Stuyvesant Street but is now on 10th Street, St. Mark's Place has long hosted alternative retailers, appealing in recent years particularly to suburban teenagers. The street is lined by institutions like Yaffa Café, Crif Dogs and St. Mark's Hotel as well as a number of authentic Japanese restaurants, bars, and many record stores with rare and competitively priced merchandise.

Sunday, June 24, 2007


“United for Equality” is the theme of this year’s HERITAGE OF PRIDE PARADE. It’s the 38th year of the annual Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender celebration. The parade began at noon today on Fifth Avenue at 52nd Street and proceeded south to 8th Street where it continued west. At Sixth Avenue, the parade veered northwest on Greenwich Avenue for one block then headed southwest through the Village on Christopher Street. The celebration commemorates the 1969 Stonewall Riots, considered the birth of the Gay Rights movement in America. At 2 p.m., there was a moment of silence to recognize those who have died of AIDS.

The rainbow flag, a symbol of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender pride was ubiquitous at the parade. The flag was designed by artist Gilbert Baker, and was first flown in San Francisco. The original design had 8 colors, but as of 2006, it consists of six coloured stripes of red (life), orange (healing), yellow (sun), green (nature), blue (harmony), and violet (spirit). It is most commonly flown with the red stripe on top, as the colours appear in a natural rainbow.
On June 28, 1969 in New York's Greenwich Village, the police raided a gay bar called the Stonewall Inn, which initiated a series of violent conflicts between the New York City police officers and groups of gay and transgender people. Also called the Stonewall Rebellion or simply Stonewall, the clash marked the beginning of worldwide gay rights movement.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

LA VIE EN ROSE the movie about EDITH PIAF

Above is an image of the poster for a wonderful movie that I saw last night at the Paris Theatre on 58th Street just off 5th Avenue. It's called "LA VIE EN ROSE," about an emotional journey of the French singer EDITH PIAF. Aside from the intense, powerful but tragic life story, the impeccable performance by MARION COTILLARD makes this movie one of the best I've seen this year.

From the New York Times:


Published: February 28, 2007

Marion Cotillard’s feral portrait of the French singer Édith Piaf as a captive wild animal hurling herself at the bars of her cage is the most astonishing immersion of one performer into the body and soul of another I’ve ever encountered in a film. Her portrayal of Piaf, plucked from the streets of Paris and molded into a music hall legend, ignites Olivier Dahan’s screen biography “La Vie en Rose,” which opens the Film Society of Lincoln Center’s annual Rendez-Vous With French Cinema series this evening at Alice Tully Hall.

Piaf, who died in 1963 at 47, a casualty of morphine and alcohol addiction, was a ragamuffin Gallic fusion of Billie Holiday and Judy Garland, but fiercer than either. Ms. Cotillard’s Piaf ages shockingly, from a famished alley cat ravenously slurping up life to a stooped, feeble wreck whose dyed red hair is falling out. It is an entirely convincing portrait of instinctive genius and raw life force wedded to self-destruction.

Held together by the intensity of Ms. Cotillard’s performance, “La Vie en Rose,” which opens commercially in New York and Los Angeles on June 8, is the most memorable of this year’s Rendez-Vous series of 17 films (including one documentary), which runs through March 11. It continues an expansion that began last year, when Rendez-Vous began showing films at the IFC Center in Greenwich Village, as well as at the Walter Reade Theater at Lincoln Center.

Leaping around in time, “La Vie en Rose,” like the life it remembers, is a chaotic jumble in which Piaf’s original recordings, embellished with new studio orchestrations, are impeccably lip-synched by the star. The glossy 140-minute film does not sentimentalize its subject until the end, when it jarringly injects a “rosebud” moment from the singer’s past.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007


CELLULOID SKYLINE: NEW YORK AND THE MOVIES is a spectacular multi-media exhibit that will bring to life the glittering cinematic metropolis of “movie New York.” The free, four-week exhibit, based on James Sanders’ award-winning book of the same name, opened in Vanderbilt Hall at the Grand Central Terminal last May 25 and will run through this month. “From the steel and concrete skyscrapers reaching towards the clouds to the glow of Broadway lights, from the gritty setting of a subway car to the grand lady standing in the harbor, New York is a truly magical place, and nowhere is that magic captured better than in the works of some of our finest filmmakers,” said Sanders. “This is not a conventional museum-style exhibit, but rather a vast, immersive, magical environment that allows people to walk into the ‘movie New York’ of their dreams.”

The exhibit combines immense urban views with digitally projected film clips and dramatic enlargements of more than 160 rare and unusual production stills. The imaginative displays capture the epic relationship between the real New York and its cinematic portrayal over the decades, beginning with the American film industry’s origins on the sidewalks of Manhattan more than a century ago. It will also look at the cinematic New York practically invented just for movies during Hollywood’s Golden Age in the ‘30s and ‘40s, as well as the more realistic vision provided by location shoots in the actual city from the late 1940s to the present.

Adding to the unique attraction of this exhibit are six “scenic backing” paintings used in such films as Alfred Hitchcock’s North by Northwest and Vincente Minnelli’s The Clock. These gigantic, meticulously rendered cityscapes, some more than 25 feet high and 60 feet long, have never been exhibited for the general public. Shown above is one of the pictures I made of one of the scenic backing (ca 1950) from MGM Studios depicting the skyline of midtown Manhattan.

Monday, June 18, 2007


He is known as the “Naked Cowboy,” and he has become a prominent fixture and a must-see tourist attraction of Times Square. He plays his guitar wearing only cowboy boots, a white cowboy hat, and a pair of white briefs. His hat, guitar and briefs have “Naked Cowboy” and "NYC" printed on them, and he sells these items online.

Doug Wagner writes:
“The Naked Cowboy is able to reminisce upon two births, really. One brought him into the world as a swaddling babe in Cincinnati, Ohio, where he grew up, studied at the University of Cincinnati, and tried his hand at professional modeling, dancing and bodybuilding. The other transpired on a sunny morning in Venice Beach, when after an unsuccessful stint of playing guitar on the boardwalk fully clothed, he took the advice of a friend and stripped to his undies before strumming away. It was then that the Naked Cowboy was born.

Every moment thereafter has been an inspired step in Burck’s self-avowed journey of “dominating the commercial landscape of the entire world.” Armed only with his boots, hat, guitar and briefs, the Naked Cowboy has achieved mind-boggling success in his solitary campaign to market, promote and sell the most personal of commodities: himself. His purely self-generated fame has landed the Naked Cowboy appearances around the globe, in print, on radio, and on shows like The David Letterman Show, The Today Show, Good Morning America, MTV’s Total Request Live, and the Disney Channel. He’s graced the televisions of viewers in Japan, Korea, Germany, China, Brazil, Italy and South Africa. He’s strummed scantily alongside Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen in the film “New York Minute.” He’s done interviews and photo-shoots for magazines including Paper, Gotham, People, YM and FHM. He’s been seen by millions in commercials for products including M&M’s, AOL, the Olympics and Pepsi (the last in a spot directed by Spike Lee that aired during the Oscars.) The likes of Dave Matthews, Donald Trump, and Sponge Bob Square Pants have all retained his services at one time or another.

Far more than just a quirky New York icon, the Naked Cowboy has endeared himself to millions with his trademark stark entertainment. His idiosyncratic life philosophy, in which he aligns himself with thinkers as diverse as Christ, Buddha, Copernicus, Tony Robbins and many more, is outlined in multiple self-published manifestos, found on his website, The Naked Cowboy, however, makes very clear that his astounding success is owing to no one but himself.

Next up for the Naked Cowboy is a slot promoting the 2006 New York City Half Marathon on behalf of Nike, on August 27. He is also currently hard at work on an album with 4Sight Music Productions, whose tracks will be infused with rock, dance, pop, blues, hip-hop, Latin, and, yes, a healthy dose of nakedness.

What to glean from the breakout success of a man, his guitar and his skivvies? Only that when conquering the world, the best ambition is naked.”

Sunday, June 17, 2007


This Petunia is one of the beautiful flowering plants for sale today at the Flea Market on the Upper Westside. Petunias (Petunia hybrida) are one of the best summer flowering annuals for mass display, in pots or hanging baskets. The color range is huge, with varieties available in every color except orange. They bloom throughout the summer and into autumn if faded flowers are removed regularly. They are native to Argentina, Brazil, and other parts of South America. These attractive flowers caught the eye of early explorers who collected seeds to take back to Europe and to North America. Petunias grow 12-15 inches tall. The plant and stem are covered with soft hair. Bright and colorful funnel shaped flowers bloom in blooms are produced in many single or multiple colors.

Saturday, June 16, 2007


My Father, Juanito (1932-1986) in a photo taken after agoo tree planting for his English IV Class at the Philippine Normal College in Manila, The Philippines, February 4, 1952.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007


A retrospective of 40 years of sculptor RICHARD SERRA’s work recently opened at the Museum of Modern Art. I made this photograph of “Intersection II”, an open, upright sandwich of four weatherproof steel, almost identical conical sections, tilting this way and that along three routes of passage. The plates are just low enough to allow for the sky to remain visible (and for the viewer not to feel claustrophobic), and high enough to make a significant impact. This piece is installed in the Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Sculpture Garden. Born in San Francisco, California in 1939, Serra has long been acclaimed for his innovative work which emphasizes materiality and engagement of the object with the viewer and the site. He focused recently on large-scale sculpture using industrial materials.

"Richard Serra’s mostly magnificent retrospective at the Museum of Modern Art (MOMA) proves that he is not only our greatest sculptor but an artist whose subject is greatness befitting our time. I have in mind the show’s climactic sections…" by Peter Schjeldahl

Monday, June 11, 2007


There’s a little bit of Broadway in everyone. That was the slogan for the 2007 Tony Awards broadcasted by CBS last night. I attended the awards night at the Radio City Music Hall and although the whole ceremony ran for almost 4 hours, it's always fun and exciting. The opening number performed by the cast of the revival of A CHORUS LINE was dazzling, and so with numbers from all the nominated musicals. I especially enjoyed and was moved by RAUL ESPARZA’s rendition of “Being Alive” as well as American Idol turned Broadway star FANTASIA’s special performance. The audience went wild when JOHN GALLAGHER, JR., JULIE WHITE and CHRISTINE EBERSOLE and DAVID HYDE PIERCE won. Both SPRING AWAKENING and THE COAST OF UTOPIA racked up multiple awards with the latter setting a record for the most awards won by a play in Tony history. The TONY awards were voted on by 785 members of the theatrical community. The awards were founded in 1947 by the American Theatre Wing which now produces the show with the League of American Theatres and Producers.

The winners of the 61st Annual Antoinette Perry "Tony" Awards are:

Best Musical -Spring Awakening
Best Performance By a Leading Actress in a Musical-Christine Ebersole, Grey Gardens
Best Performance By a Leading Actor in a Musical-David Hyde Pierce, Curtains
Best Play-The Coast of Utopia
Best Performance By a Leading Actor in a Play-Frank Langella, Frost/Nixon
Best Performance By a Leading Actress in a Play-Julie White, The Little Dog Laughed
Best Revival of a Musical-Company
Best Revival of a Play-Journey's End
Best Direction of a Musical-Michael Mayer, Spring Awakening
Best Special Theatrical Event-Jay Johnson: The Two and Only
Best Direction of a Play-Jack O'Brien, The Coast of Utopia
Best Performance By a Featured Actress in a Play-Jennifer Ehle, The Coast of Utopia
Best Performance By a Featured Actor in a Play-Billy Crudup, The Coast of Utopia
Best Choreography-Bill T. Jones, Spring Awakening
Best Performance By a Featured Actress in a Musical-Mary Louise Wilson, Grey Gardens
Best Performance By a Featured Actor in a Musical-John Gallagher, Jr., Spring Awakening
Best Original Score-Spring Awakening
Music: Duncan Sheik
Lyrics: Steven Sater
Best Book of a Musical-Spring Awakening, Steven Sater

Sunday, June 10, 2007


Today is the 50th annual Puerto Rican Day Parade celebrating Puerto Rican heritage. The parade started at 11 AM at 44th Street and Fifth Avenue and ran all the way up to 86th Street. The festivities of the annual event included 100 floats, dozens of performers, celebrities, politicians, as well as the parade's first-ever "king", pop star RICKY MARTIN.

"The National Parade is the vehicle to promote to our town and culture at national level," said Madelyn Lugo, president of the parade organizing committee. "We have worked to show the efforts and contributions of our community to the American society."

Organizers estimate that more than 80,000 people lined Fifth Avenue to watch the parade. There are about 2.1 million Hispanics living in New York, and Puerto Ricans are the largest Hispanic group in the city, numbering 789,000, according to city figures. Puerto Rico is a US unincorporated territory with commonwealth status located in the northeastern Caribbean.

Monday, June 4, 2007


The Philippine Independence Day Parade was held yesterday, June 3rd at Madison Avenue. The parade is a celebration for the Filipino community in the Northeast United States, home to more than half a million Filipinos. The celebration in New York City is the largest among Philippine Independence celebrations in the United States. Its main goal is to promote awareness of Philippine culture and to raise funds for charity projects in the USA and the Philippines. The parade featured men, women and children in traditional Filipino costumes, different civic and professional organizations, schools, floats sponsored by commercial establishments, Filipino dance troupe, “beauty queens,” as well as men in Ati-atihan costumes. Ati-atihan is a Philippine festival in Aklan province dedicated to the celebration of the Feast of the Santo Niño or the Holy Infant Jesus. During the festival Celebrants paint their faces with black soot and wear bright, outlandish costumes as they dance in revelry in the streets. Philippine Independence from Spain is celebrated on June 12th.

Sunday, June 3, 2007


Last Wednesday night, I went to see SPRING AWAKENING, the most Tony nominated Broadway show this season. Based on Frank Wedekind's masterpiece “The Awakening of Spring”, Spring Awakening tells the story of how a dozen young people in a provincial German town in the 1890s make their way through the exciting, complicated, confusing and mysterious time of their sexual awakening. The story centers around a brilliant young student named Melchior, his troubled friend Moritz, and Wendla, a beautiful young girl on the verge of womanhood. Lea Michele and Jonathan Groff star as teens Wendla and Melchior, respectively who are drawn to each other in a world where parents, ministers and teachers create an atmosphere of shame, silence and ignorance. Both actors were wonderful in this musical. John Gallagher Jr. plays Moritz and his performance is outstanding. He effectively expresses his inner confusion and frustrations. The music and lyrics by Duncan Sheik and Steven Sater features songs that illuminate the urgency of adolescent self-discovery, the burning intensity of teen friendships and the innate suspicion of the uncomprehending adult world. The musical reminded me of RENT, and has its own cult following.

From the New York Times:

“As that daring sequence suggests, Mr. Sater, who wrote the book and lyrics, remains faithful to the play’s awareness that the discovery of sex can carry in its heady wake both salvation and destruction, particularly when it is coupled with ignorance. Mr. Sheik’s music, spare in its simple orchestrations, lush in the lapping reach of its seductive choruses, embodies the shadowy air of longing that infuses the show, the excitement shading into fear, the joy that comes with a chaser of despair. The singing throughout is impassioned and affecting, giving powerful voice to the blend of melancholy and hope in the songs.

For the characters’ confusions are ultimately not sexual but existential too. Sex is a central expression of life’s mystery, and a metaphor for it too. But the awakening really taking place in “Spring Awakening” is to something larger than the insistent needs of the flesh. Mr. Sater and Mr. Sheik’s angst-riddled teenagers are growing into a new awareness of “the bitch of living” itself. And the beauty of living too.”

Friday, June 1, 2007

Alzheimer's Association

The Empire State Building was lit in purple/purple/white last night in honor of the Alzheimer's Association. I made this picture from Bryant Park at dusk. The Alzheimer’s Association is the leading voluntary health organization in Alzheimer care, support and research. Its mission is to eliminate Alzheimer's disease through the advancement of research; to provide and enhance care and support for all affected; and to reduce the risk of dementia through the promotion of brain health.